11 dead in mass shooting at Virginia Beach municipal center, police say
A longtime public utilities employee opened fire at the Virginia Beach municipal building Friday afternoon, killing 11 people and injuring six others, police chief James Cervera told reporters, per CNN. One of the 11 victims was a police officer.
Authorities confirmed that the suspect died in a gunfight with police said they believe there was only one shooter. A law enforcement official said a semi-automatic pistol and rifle were found at the scene.
Police responded to an active shooter situation shortly before 4pm, when the city employee entered Building 2 of the municipal center and fired “indiscriminately” at the victims, Cervera said. Officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter, and one cop was fatally wounded.
Virginia Beach General Hospital reported they were treating five patients. A sixth patient was treated at Princess Anne Hospital, then airlifted to Norfolk General Hospital, a Level I trauma center. Authorities did not not disclose the extent of the victims' injuries.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are assisting Virginia State Police with the investigation. "Right now we have a lot of questions. The whys, they will come later," Cervera told reporters. "Right now we have more questions really than we have answers."
"This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach," Mayor Bobby Dyer said during a press conference, per BuzzFeed News. "The people involved are our friends coworkers, neighbors, colleagues."
"I never thought this would happen in my building," said Arthur Felton, a 18-year employee in the planning department, while speaking with the Virginian-Pilot. "The people who were shot - I’m sure I know most of them." Felton told the outlet he evacuated the building upon hearing gunshots.
"We just heard people yelling and screaming to get down," said Megan Banton, a public utilities employee, while speaking with WAVY-TV. "I don't know what kind of person would do something like that." Banton and her co-workers reportedly barricaded themselves in their office during the shooting.
The municipal center consists of 30 government buildings that house various city departments, public utilities, planning, public works, planning, communications and information technology, according to the city's website. Building 2 houses the operations building.
The incident is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the Thousand Oaks massacre last November. At around 11:20 pm, a lone gunman entered the Borderline Bar & Grill and opened fire on the innocent bystanders. He killed 12 people and a police officer, and was killed inside the venue.